Beginner Body Weight Workout: Lose Weight, Build Muscle ANYWHERE!

So you want to get in shape, but you have no gym membership. Ruh roh…

That’s fine, you don’t need one to get in great shape! You can work out anywhere, like me in the photo above, doing push-ups on a cliff in South Africa.

I usually find that commercial gyms are tough places to work out anyways, as they’re home to pushy salesman, can be intimidating, and other members might not be very welcoming. (If you DO go to a gym, here’s how to successfully navigate a commercial gym).

Luckily, you can burn fat, build muscle, and get a great workout using just your body weight.  In fact, Learn why cardio can often be one of the least efficient methods of burning calories, and how you can get a lot done in a little bit of time.  By doing body weight circuits, where you complete one exercise right after the other without stopping, you’re both building muscle and getting a cardiovascular workout.

Combine that with a good diet and you got yourself a kick-ass plan to follow!

Why Body Weight Circuits Kick Ass

What makes body weight circuits work so well?

Every exercise involved utilizes multiple muscle groups, gets your heart rate pumping, and burns tons of calories.  Check out this interview from Jason Ferruggia and Alwyn Cosgrove, two fitness gurus whose opinions and research I highly respect.  Essentially, circuit weight training burns more calories than interval training, which burns WAY more calories than steady cardio.  Essentially, if you’re trying to lose weight, spending hours doing cardio on a treadmill is a really crappy use of your time.

I’m going to take you through a basic workout today that can be completed in your house, apartment, out at a park, in your parents’ basement, wherever.  As always, make sure you are cleared by your personal physician for physical activity before attempting these exercises.    Proceed at your own risk!

Beginner Body Weight Workout

 

This is a basic body weight circuit. In a circuit routine, you’ll do each exercise in succession without a break in between (if you’re able).  Once you’ve finished all exercises in the circuit, you do it again.  If you’re still able after the 2nd run through, go for a third.  Because all of these exercises come one after another, you’re bound to get tired.  It’s better to stop and take a break than to do an exercise incorrectly.  If you can’t do all three circuits without stopping, that gives you something to build towards.

Before you start, WARM UP – Never ever ever ever forget to warm up.  Make sure to get your heart rate pumping and get your muscles warm or you’re just asking for injury.  If you’re strapped for time, cut short your workout, not your warm up.  You can run in place, jump rope, do a few push ups, pedal on a stationary bike, jog up and down your stairs, etc.  Don’t wear yourself out completely, but get your heart rate elevated and little bit of sweat never hurt anybody.

After the warm up, here is exactly what you need to do:

And so you can write it down, here is the write up for the exercise routine.

  • 20 body weight squats
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 walking lunges
  • 10 dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug)
  • 15 second plank
  • 30 Jumping Jacks

After you’ve completed your workout, make sure you stretch. All of your muscles have been contracted from lifting and need to be stretched back out and rebuilt.

For either the body weight squats or lunges, if you can’t do them properly yet, it’s okay to put your hand on a support to keep your balance.

For the body weight squats, think of it like sitting back into a chair. If you can sit down onto a chair, and then stand immediately right back up without having to lean forward, you are in balance.

For the lunges, keep your eyes ahead and your upper body completely vertical. I had a slight bend at times in the video due to trying to exercise and explain at the same time.

I used a milk jug for my dumbbell, but you can use whatever is heavy enough for you. Find something that is challenging to lift 10 times in a row.

Do this routine 2-3 times a week, but never on consecutive days.  You don’t build muscle when you’re exercising, you build muscle when you’re resting.  Generally I follow a pattern of strength training on one day, then 20 minutes of interval training on the next, then strength training, then interval training, and so on.  You never want to do a strength routine two days straight (of the same muscle groups), as your muscles haven’t had time to recover.

Along with this routine, you need to make sure you’re eating properly! A good workout and crappy diet will not get you anywhere.  Lots of real foods (fruits, vegetables, lean meat, nuts, etc.).  Eat natural, whole foods whenever possible, and leave the soda, candy, and junk food out of your system.  Your diet is at least 80% of your success or failure.

Help Me Help You

Leave a comment and let me know how it was for you, and your fitness level (total n00b, beginner, some experience, etc.). If you can get through all three circuits, let me know how long it took you.

If you have a YouTube account, you can subscribe to the NerdFitness channel, which will alert you any time I put out a new video.

If this routine is too easy for you, I have an Advanced Body Weight Circuit too.  You’ve been warned 🙂

-Steve

PS: If you’re looking for a little more direction, high definition video demonstrations of each exercise, more than a dozen more workouts, and a full guide on how to eat properly, check out the Nerd Fitness Academy!  I’m really proud of what we’ve put together.

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  • Animish

    Hello Broda,

    I am a skinny teenager who thinks he eats a lot. As compared to My regular Gym going friends with a well built body, I DO EAT A LOT, but never put on muscle or even fats. I want to go Gymming and get a strong body and also develop a long lasting physical stamina. How do I go on with it? Please Help.

  • Shyam Shukla

    The Most Complete Muscle Cookbook And Nutrition Guide For Bodybuilding & Fitness With Over 200 Muscle Building Recipes
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  • Danielle De La Wonk

    Ahhh, it’s day 4 and already I’m making a pigs ear of it. I found this place after trying to look up how to do a proper push up (turns out I can’t) so I’ve signed up to the 100 push ups as well and there are physio exercises and stretches I do every day plus later on I’ll be gearing up to perform circus stuff and I’ve already overwhelmed myself…. don’t know which or what I should do first or last or what… can you tell that anxiety is one of the things that holds me back?

  • Shift Hawke

    Deadpool would be another funny one.

  • Shift Hawke

    That’s why this site is so awesome. It may be backwards shorts, but it was a genuine accident and you rolled with it. It’s something I would do lol.

  • Shift Hawke

    Hey there. When I was in the Navy, I pretty much only did body weight exercises. I gained somewhere around 8lbs but lost a size and a half. I love body weight exercises. It’s a little hard now that I have pfs with recurrent shin splints. But come hell or high water, I’m getting back in shape. I appreciate this site, and your book. I’m only 15 pages in and I can’t stop cracking up. Plus I love the references. I constantly make game references people don’t understand. I’m excited to get down to a better weight and go back to a gym. But body weight exercises are life.

  • Abishek Asokan

    Can I replace the dumbbell rows with chin ups?

  • lea

    hey @nerdfitness. i have a question. i am so thin overall but i have a big belly. how do i get rid of it and why do i have it in the first place.

  • HealthSpectra

    Great Video ! Thank you for Sharing!

  • WiiLifter

    i used a wii for the dumbbell

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